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People's Daily Online>>China Society

Path to stardom starts with an exam

By Zhang Yuchen and Wang Yan  (China Daily)

09:34, February 27, 2012

Thousands of young people apply to China's art college every year in the hope of learning how to become actors, musicians, dancers and painters. About nine million youngsters take the national college entrance exam - known as the gaokao - every year and an estimated 10 percent apply for places at art college. Pictured is a selection of the faces and scenes spotted outside colleges and during the gruelling entrance exams. (Zheng Tao / for China Daily)

Applicants take the first step of an arduous trek, report Zhang Yuchen and Wang Yan in Beijing.

To win an Oscar is to reach the pinnacle of the movie world.

As the glitterati hit the red carpet in Los Angeles for Hollywood's 84th Academy Awards on Sunday, about 1 million wannabe stars in China will be preparing for another annual event that could help them emulate their heroes: art college entrance exams.

The tough testing process is for high school hopefuls who want to get on a university course that will set them on a path to becoming actors, TV presenters, musicians, dancers and painters.

Competition is fierce and the chances of success are slim, with experts warning that even those who are accepted face a struggle to find regular work after graduation.

An estimated 10 percent of all college candidates apply to art programs, but admission rates can be extremely low.

The Beijing Film Academy, whose alumni include award-winning director Zhang Yimou, received 25,000 applications this year, up 30 percent on 2011.

However, there are only 455 places up for grabs, including 85 for its popular acting school, which has an acceptance rate of just 1.5 percent.

Central Academy of Drama, once attended by actress Gong Li, is currently processing 21,000 applicants, more than 8,400 of whom are competing for 50 places in its acting department.

Meanwhile, the China Academy of Art saw a 50-percent increase in candidates this year, with 89,567 students hoping to claim one of 1,665 places.

The exams, which are designed by individual colleges, began this month shortly after Spring Festival and will run until early March.

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